Tag: gTLD

Is Your Business Ready For The Greatest Change To The Internet Since Its Creation?

Is Your Business Ready For The Greatest Change To The Internet Since Its Creation?
I recently attended ICANN 46 in Beijing, the 46th international event on the future development and growth of the Internet since ICANN’s creation in 1998.
ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) is the steward of the Internet, and ICANN 46 is the 46th episode in evolution of the Internet. Since its inception, ICANN has been developing what is known to those in the know as the ‘new gTLD program’. While we once had .com, .net, .gov and approximately 22 other TLD’s (Top Level Domains) including .com.au, soon we will have approximately 1,950 new ones. Nearly 600 trade mark brands like .nike, .ferarri, .toshiba called bTLDs or Branded Top Level Domains will run as closed operations, meaning that you won’t be able to purchase second level domains from them. Approximately 1,350 generic terms like .app, .church, .love, .pizza and even .sux will be open to the general public, which you can purchase second level domains of e.g pizzahut.pizza.
While in Beijing, apart from the fact that I felt like my nose and mouth were permanently attached to the exhaust of a car, it was abundantly clear to me that 95% of businesses around the world are not even aware of the impending impact of ICANN’s new gTLD program, and the fact that it will potentially have the greatest impact on businesses around the world since the invention of the internet itself.

Nearly 2,000 attendees spent up to 8 days immersing themselves in the creation and development of ICANN policies, and exploring what the new Internet landscape will look like with these new gTLDs. While some were impressed with the turn out, as an Internet strategist I was absolutely gob-smacked that something that will have such a wide and dramatic impact, was largely void of business owners that would be impacted the most. It was clear to me that it was up to companies like SLAM Strategy to see how this new space will evolve, and to help educate businesses on their industry’s need address the coming spectacular change.
Businesses need to make sure RIGHT NOW that they are working on strategies to challenge their competitors who have purchased their own dot trademark. Businesses also need to understand how to take advantage of the opportunities of the new gTLDs that can be purchased propelling them ahead of their competition.
Business owners be warned, once these new gTLDs go live it will hit the world with speed and ferocity. For those in the know it is a gold rush, but the vast majority is going to be like sheep to the slaughter house, blissfully unaware of the impending impact of this new digital landscape.
Being forewarned is being forearmed and there are some serious questions that I want business owners to think about and address. These questions involve both threats and opportunities for businesses. It is vital that they are addressed now.

Threats
Let’s say you are a pizza shop or even a chain of pizza shops like Eagle Boys pizza. How do you think your customers would react when they see Pizza Haven (competitor) is promoting themselves as the real deal because they are Pizzahaven.pizza. The thing is, it’s not just a question for Eagle Boys or Pizza Haven, it is a question for every pizza shop owner around the world. The pizza shop owner needs to ask themselves if their customers are thinking, “If the company I am buying the pizza from doesn’t own a .pizza do they really love pizza?” Or on a more subtle level if you don’t even know that Eagle Boys make pizza and you saw www.eagleboys.com.au and you saw www.joes.pizza which one do you think you would pick? Which one tells you what they do? On that note, even if you knew that Eagle Boys sold pizza, which one do you think was REALLY into making pizza? Which one was a part of the .pizza club? While these things may seem subtle, sometimes that is all it takes to turn a customer from A to B.

As someone with a background in marketing, you are always looking for any % advantage you can get. In many cases it is only a 1% or 2% difference, and when you are a big franchise like Eagle Boys, that can represent hundreds of thousands of dollars and potentially an industry game changer.
Now let’s say you are a shoe brand that is well known that competes directly with Nike. How are you going to deal with and address the fact that on the way to work you saw a bus go past saying, “If it doesn’t end in .nike, it’s not us!” How are you going to promote your business as being a leader online if you’re just a “yourshoebrand.com”?

Unfortunately your opportunity to compete has come and gone. The first round window to apply has closed so the best thing you can do is to get your head around what is happening first. While it is widely speculated that ICANN will do a subsequent round it has not been confirmed. Even if it was confirmed it would not start until the current 1,950 applications have all been fully processed. This could take up to 5 years. So what are you going to do to combat this over the next 5 years, do you know?

Opportunities
While it is largely unconfirmed and hotly debated amongst all, it is possible that purchasing of a second level domain name that ends in a keyword such as .pizza could impact on search results. I need to be clear that at this point, according to Matt Cutts from Google (Google’s search algorithm god) it won’t make a difference. Rather, he mentioned that what is always most important in Google’s results is relevancy. However I feel that this is just a way of avoiding the real issue and that is that if you took two websites that were identical in every way, in every respect, including identical content, identical amount of content, identical in every way except for one. If one website was a .com and the other was a .pizza I believe that Google would have to (just by their admission of how their search algorithm works) make the choice to rank the .pizza website ahead of the .com. Why? Well it is just more likely to be more relevant that a .com because .com is anything, while a .pizza is also the search term that the searcher typed in to Google to start with and therefore more likely to be a more relevant search result than the .com domain. There can only be one website in first position in any Google search result. The fact that Google has applied for 101 gTLDs should be a clear enough indication as to how they feel they are going to impact on the internet landscape.
So here are some things for you as the business owner to think about.
1. How much do you know about the new gTLD program?
2. What strategies do you have in place for your competitors that purchased a trademarked gTLD?
3. How are you going to take advantage of the new gTLD opportunities?
4. What opportunities are there with the new gTLDs?
5. What other treats are there from the new gTLDs?
6. Do you need to do anything at all?
Some of the new gTLDs that should get businesses, especially franchisors attention, are words like .pizza, .game, .games, .beauty, .bike, .cafe, .florist, .hair, .law, .makeup, .garden, .organic, .plumbing, .restaurant, .salon and my personal favorite that is nothing to laugh at when you consider who may use it and what they may use it for .sucks.
Nearly every franchise system will be affected by these new gTLDs but how will depend on how much knowledge they have to be able to address this new era of Internet. If you’re not sure about any or all of these questions then you need to get your business up to speed and be prepared. SLAM Strategy is an Internet strategy company able to help businesses to navigate this complex and widely misunderstood industry. Opportunities await you.

THE KEY TO DOTBRAND SUCCESS

In the second quarter of 2013 the first “Branded Generic Top Level Domain Names” also called “gTLDs” will likely be approved for use on the Internet. For the first time in history the Internet is about to get seriously commercialised, by allowing brands to own and govern their own slice of the Internet.

Brands are about to turn our Internet world on its head in ways that we cannot currently imagine. Now these aren’t just any brands, they are among some of the World’s biggest, most progressive, dynamic and successful brands there are going around globally. Where you once had .com, .net, .gov and a few others, you will soon see the likes of .nike, .tiffany, .abc, .nbc, .afl, .seven, .google and nearly 1,000 more from a variety of countries around the world. Soon your computer screens, smart phones, TV’s, newspapers (and just about every other form of advertising medium) will come alive with chatter from these brands as they prepare to educate the general public about the importance and value of their new purchases. Most importantly though is that they will try and convince you as to why you should own your own personalised .brand like www.johnsmith.nike or something similar. Yes, your favorite brands will soon be able to offer you your very own branded web address. Soon you will see a global education campaign start up to drive your attention to a new look communication tool for brands, E.g. “If it doesn’t end in .nike, its not supported by Nike”.
What this new space will look like and how it will operate exactly is yet to be seen, but one thing that we can be sure of is that anything is possible when you put the most cost effective, global, digital marketing tool in front of the marketing departments of global brands.
There has only ever been one application round conducted for new gTLDs at this stage and inevitably there is going to be a second and possibly more when all the existing applications (including other related applications for generic terms like .app, .love, .sydney) have been approved. Just the applications alone for one of these top level domains cost $185,000 with an ongoing fee of $25,000 per year, not to mention legal and other support costs. It has been widely mentioned that each of these domains can cost 1 million dollars before it is even accessible (added to the root zone).
Until the second round starts (which is likely to be up to 5 years away to approve all existing applications and then approve the next rounds applications), these brands have a unique window of opportunity to find new commercial solutions without their competition being able to do anything about it. This window is critical in gaining leverage of a once in a life time opportunity to build brand awareness and market share in the new Internet world with a select group of businesses.
There is much speculation about the need for these new domains as they really are just a naming convention so “technically” of very little value. However from a branding point of view it is the chance to offer a unique selling proposition to their target market in ways that they have never been able to do before. Although not a technical a game changer, a dotbrand is a massive windfall for brands when it comes to marketing and advertising. The fact that these lucky few brands will have the space to themselves for quite some time is just the icing on the cake. The possibilities are endless and soon you will see just what the minds of these powerful and successful brands can conjure up.
So what can brands like Nike do with their dotnike (.nike) that they can’t do now with nike.com?
Firstly, they will be able to set down the rules and regulations of how the space is operated and who is allowed to own a domain ending in their brand. With a .com the brand is at the mercy of the rules that govern .com and has little if any control over who purchases any .com domains.
Secondly, by owning a branded top level domain, any website that ends in a .brand e.g mystore.nike, can only exist because Nike approved it as an official Nike outlet, so the brand suddenly gains huge amounts of control over the communication of its products and services online. Shoppers can be confident that their new purchase online is from a genuine Nike shoe outlet and therefore the shoes are genuine also. With a .com it is possible that some websites are not genuine but copy outlets selling inferior products.
Thirdly, Nike also has the unique ability to offer personalised domains to their customers for easier communication, better brand exposure and more accurate target marketing. With a .com there is no way of identifying a loyal customer.
Imagine Nike saying to you that you can have your very own personalised branded domain name like Johnsmith.nike. Perhaps you’re a Ferrari car enthusiast, and want to own Johnsmith.ferrari. Imagine what these brands will be able to do with their marketing spend if they could focus it on those customers who they could identify as closer or more loyal to the brand. It would be an army of customers who are passively promoting a brand just by owning a personalised branded domain name, showing it off publicly in their Internet communication. Imagine thousands or tens of thousands of customers doing this globally. Tiny changes like these on a global scale can be worth millions in promotion and brand recognition.
One of the biggest problems with advertising and marketing has always been about trying not to waste money on people who don’t want or who aren’t interested in buying or using your product or service. Imagine being able to rally customers to a promotion on a global scale in one click. Fewer dollars spent to reach the same people to generate more sales. Sound exciting?
Every brand will be looking at these domains as a way to vastly reduce their overheads, increase their brand’s exposure globally, tighten their communications, gain a marketing edge and therefore increase their ROI. What do you think these multi-million dollar companies would be prepared to pay to achieve that considering they spend hundreds of millions of dollars doing this already? The million dollars invested is peanuts…as long as they can conjure up the right strategy to benefit from it. Regardless of the outcomes, you have to be in it to win it.
So we believe brands are going to be hot on the trail of looking for customers to support their brands and build closer, more intimate networks, with the people who actually buy, support and talk about their products and services. This is about active users being actively engaged with the brands they support.
So what is in it for the customer? Well these brands need to take advantage of this new frontier and will likely approach it like a gold rush scooping up vast databases of potential customers with special offers just so they can have you as their brand champion, championing and promoting their products and services. In exchange for that promotion they can afford to offer you discounts, special, unique purchases, VIP passes, points, the list is endless. Your support of a brand means their success and that success is vital if they are going to get the edge they are looking for.
The big question that we think that will be on the minds of those in the boardrooms and at the marketing brain storming sessions will be how? Brands already have contact with their existing customers through email, on their website and social media but how will they educate them to want to have a personalised domain name? Then once they have reached those customers, how will they reach new ones? This could be a costly education exercise as most people don’t even know what a gTLD is let alone why they would want or need a personalised one. Finally, how can they do it before their competitors have their own branded gTLD domains approved and operating?
We believe having the answers to these questions will help leap a brand to the next level. This is where the truly great brands will dominate their sectors and gain massive market share.
SLAM Strategy is exclusively an Internet Strategy company that is focused on these sorts of issues. For more information on branded domains and how to take advantage of new opportunities contact us today. enquiries@slamstrategy.com.au